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New York Times Bestsellers
Week of February 16, 2020
FICTION
#1  (Last Week: 1 • Weeks on List: 3)  
American Dirt
Book Jacket   Jeanine Cummins
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250209764 In a book both timely and prodigiously readable, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) offers an unrelenting and terrifyingly you-are-there account of a Mexican mother and son fleeing to America after cartel violence takes their entire family. Lydia had been comfortably running a bookstore in Acapulco, but cartel violence is escalating, and the charming customer with whom she's become friendly turns out to be the jefe of the newest, cruelest cartel in town. When he's also the subject of her journalist husband's latest reveal-all profile, vengeance is swift, which puts Lydia and Luca on the run by bus and van, in migrant shelters, on top of a train, and, finally, in the remote and blazing American Southwest. Cummins expertly balances the brutality of the cartel, its scary omniscience, and Lydia's ululating fear with Lydia's passionate commitment to Luca's survival and the numerous small, brave acts of kindness she encounters that speed this duo north. VERDICT Here, it's the journey rather than the arrival on American dirt that counts, and readers will wonder whether they could ever have survived such a trek even as they realize that this could happen to them. An important book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/19.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781250209764 With this devastating yet hopeful work, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) breathes life into the statistics of the thousands fleeing their homelands and seeking to cross the southern border of the United States. By mere chance, Lydia Quixano Pérez and her eight-year-old son, Luca, survive the massacre of the rest of her family at her niece’s quinceañera by sicarios of the Los Jardineros cartel in Acapulco. Compounding the horror of the violence and loss is the fact that the cartel’s leader is a man that Lydia unwittingly befriended in her bookstore. Lydia and Luca flee north to the only refuge that she can imagine: her uncle’s family in Denver. North of Mexico City, all other sources of transportation become impossible, so mother and son must risk traveling atop La Bestia, the freight trains that are the only way to reach the border without being seen. They befriend two beautiful sisters—Soledad, 15, who is “a living miracle of splendor,” and Rebeca, 14—who have fled life-threatening circumstances in Honduras. As the quartet travel, they face terror on a constant basis, with danger possible from any encounter, but also compassion and occasionally even wonder. This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core. (Jan.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250209764 All's well for Lydia Quixano Perez, who runs a bookstore in Acapulco while raising beloved son Luca, until her journalist husband writes a reveal-all profile of the jefe of the newest drug cartel brutalizing the city. For safety, she and her family are forced to flee north, trying to get onto "American dirt"—but what will life be like for them when they arrive? Starting to buzz; a ten-city author tour.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. This terrifying and tender novel is a blunt answer to the question of why immigrants from Latin America cross the U.S. borderand a testimony to the courage it takes to do it.Cummins (The Crooked Branch, 2013, etc.) opens this propulsive novel with a massacre. In a pleasant Acapulco neighborhood, gunmen slaughter 16 people at a family barbecue, from a grandmother to the girl whose quinceaera they are celebrating. The only survivors are Lydia, a young mother, and her 8-year-old son, Luca. She knows they must escape, fast and far. Lydia's husband, Sebastin, is among the dead; he was a fearless journalist whose coverage of the local cartel, Los Jardineros, is the reason los sicarios were sent, as the sign fastened to his dead chest makes clear. Lydia knows there is more to it, that her friendship with a courtly older man who has become her favorite customer at the small bookstore she runs is a secret key, and that she and her son are marked for death. Cummins does a splendid job of capturing Lydia's and Luca's numb shock and then panic in the aftermath of the shootings, then their indomitable will to survive and reach el norteany place they might go in Mexico is cartel territory, and any stranger might be an assassin. She vividly recounts their harrowing travels for more than 1,000 miles by bus, atop a lethally dangerous freight train, and finally on foot across the implacable Sonoran Desert. Peril and brutality follow them, but they also encounter unexpected generosity and heroism. Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains.Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781250209764 Lydia Perez's life is not extraordinary; she is a bookstore owner with a husband and eight-year-old son, Luca, in Acapulco. When cartel jefe Javier Fuentes has her entire extended family killed while Lydia and Luca are fortuitously hiding in a bathroom, Lydia realizes they must leave Mexico immediately or be killed when Javier finds out she is still alive. Luca, confused but trusting in his mother, embarks with her on an odyssey to the north, joining other migrants trying to make it to the U.S. border. What they see along the way will bring readers both heartbreak and hope, pain and promise. While Cummins alternates points of view, Luca's voice in particular sings with innocent optimism in the face of a series of near misses. The journey towards the prospect of safety is not only that of Luca and Lydia but of many other migrants, and complex secondary characters serve as both warnings and signs of possibility. Beautiful, straightforward language drives home the point that migration to safer places is not a political issue but a human one. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a story line sure to be much discussed this election year plus a film in the works American Dirt may be the don't-miss book of 2020.--Tracy Babiasz Copyright 2019 Booklist
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#2  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Golden In Death
Book Jacket   JD Robb
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781250207203 For the victims in Golden in Death, murder comes in small boxes delivered right to their doorsteps. The first victim is a loving husband and father, a beloved member of New York City's medical community, and a kind neighbor and thoughtful friend. So who on earth would want to kill such a paragon of goodness? That is the question NYPSD (New York Police and Security Department) lieutenant Eve Dallas, along with her always frosty professional crew and her helpmate-in-every-way-possible Roarke, must discover if there is any hope of catching the enigmatic killer before another innocent person opens his or her door to death. In the title, Robb, a romantic suspense pseudonym for best-selling romance queen Nora Roberts, cleverly celebrates the golden anniversary, so to speak, of her legendary Eve Dallas series. In the book itself she proves definitively that she has the golden touch when it comes seamlessly fusing danger-spiked plots, propulsive pacing, and a sexy partnership between a tough-as-nails heroine and the man of mystery who complements her in the best possible fashion.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A national one-day laydown of 750,000 copies and an all-out traditional and social media PR campaign will ensure that Eve Dallas' many fans note the fiftieth title in this iconic series.--John Charles Copyright 2019 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Lt. Eve Dallas celebrates her 50th futuristic procedural by taking down an unusually malevolent and resourceful poisoner.Who would have wanted to kill saintly physician Kent Abner, who donated his services to a pediatric clinicexcept of course for all those abusive parents he reported to the authorities over the years? Eve and her partner, Detective Delia Peabody (Vendetta in Death, 2019, etc.), are still wending their way through the list of possibles when they learn that Elise Duran has been prevented from hosting the weekly meeting of her book club in exactly the same way Abner was killed: She breathed the toxic fumes released from a golden egg delivered to her door. The murder method is so offbeat and so precisely calibratedthe malefactor clearly targeted both victims when they were home alone and chose a chemical agent that would be sure to dispatch them without killing any innocent victimsthat both crimes were obviously hatched by a single brain. And this time, the second murder, instead of muddling the mystery, clarifies it so dramatically that Eve, backed up by her usual legion of omnicompetent colleagues and a little help from Roarke, her dishy billionaire husband, quickly identifies the likely motive for both homicides and then zeroes in on her prime suspect when her tale is only halfway told. So there's precious little mystery after the initial false leads. The rewards on tap instead are the familiar pleasures of watching Eve and Peabody and the New York Police painstakingly gather evidence, make their case, relentlessly question any number of variously complicit citizens who don't happen to be the killer and walk away from their pushback, and then break the perp in a climactic interrogation that the mountain of physical evidence they've amassed makes as superfluous as it is satisfying.It's great to think that the dawning surveillance state will help catch some actual criminals in the mid-21st-century. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781250207203 Set in New York City in 2061, bestseller Robb’s capable 50th In Death police procedural (after 2019’s Vendetta in Death) pits Lt. Eve Dallas against a particularly callous and ingenious assassin. One day, pediatrician Kent Abner receives a mysterious golden egg in the mail. When he opens the lid, the egg emits a deadly toxin that kills him. A loving husband, father, and grandfather, the victim was well liked in his West Village neighborhood. After questioning Abner’s work colleagues and relatives, Eve and her stalwart partner, Det. Delia Peabody, are unable to establish a motive or a viable suspect. However, when book club host Elise Duran is killed in an identical manner, Eve notices a link—both the victims’ spouses worked at the same private school. Dogged investigative work and a little assistance from her billionaire husband, Roarke, help strong, shrewd, reliable Eve bring the heinous killer to justice. The gripping plot builds to a dramatic finale. Robb shows no sign of losing steam. 750,000 announced first printing. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Feb.)
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#3  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Crooked River
 Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781538747254 When more than a hundred shoes containing severed human feet wash ashore on Florida’s Sanibel Island in Preston and Child’s exciting 19th Pendergast novel (after 2018’s Verses for the Dead), eccentric FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast, who’s vacationing in nearby Fort Myers with his ward, Constance Greene, joins the investigation. The arrogant Coast Guard commander in charge is sure the shoes belong to convicts executed at a Cuban prison, but Pendergast thinks otherwise and enlists the aid of oceanographer Pamela Gladstone to analyze currents in the Gulf of Mexico to determine their source. The stakes rise as it becomes clear that a mole within the investigation is tipping off those responsible for the crime. Pendergast and Gladstone wind up captured by some nasty villains, and a handful of Pendergast’s friends, including the resourceful Constance, must rush to the rescue in an extended, nail-biting climax. After a string of so-so entries in this bestselling series, Preston and Child have returned to the quality storytelling they’re known for. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (Feb.)
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#4  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 75)  
Where The Crawdads Sing
 Delia Owens
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780593103036 Owens (The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Adventure in the African Wilderness), an experienced nature writer, puts her background to good use in her debut novel. Her descriptions of the Carolina coastal marsh add vibrancy to this story of Kya Clark, known as the Marsh Girl, who has survived alone there for years. Kya's story is intertwined with a 1969 murder mystery in which Kya is the chief suspect. The nature writing is lyrical, and narrator Cassandra Campbell does it justice. Unfortunately, the somewhat implausible mystery plot does not measure up to the quality of the nature prose, but the characters will keep listeners engaged. -Verdict A selection of Reese Witherspoon's book club, this should be a popular addition for most fiction collections despite its flaws.-Cynthia Jensen, Gladys Harrington Lib., Plano, TX © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A wild child's isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder."The Marsh Girl," "swamp trash"Catherine "Kya" Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband's beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya's fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl's collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya's coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man's body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, "star quarterback and town hot shot," who was once Kya's lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel's weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymatha published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.Despite some distractions, there's an irresistible charm to Owens' first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735219090 In Owens's evocative debut, Kya Clark is a young woman growing up practically on her own in the wild marshes outside Barkley Cove, a small coastal community in North Carolina. In 1969, local lothario Chase Andrews is found dead, and Kya, now 23 and known as the "Marsh Girl," is suspected of his murder. As the local sheriff and his deputy gather evidence against her, the narrative flashes back to 1952 to tell Kya's story. Abandoned at a young age by her mother, she is left in the care of her hard-drinking father. Unable to fit in at school, Kya grows up ignorant until a shrimper's son, Tate Walker, befriends her and teaches her how to read. After Tate goes off to college, Kya meets Chase, with whom she begins a tempestuous relationship. The novel culminates in a long trial, with Kya's fate hanging in the balance. Kya makes for an unforgettable heroine. Owens memorably depicts the small-town drama and courtroom theatrics, but perhaps best of all is her vivid portrayal of the singular North Carolina setting. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780735219090 Owens' (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006) first novel is a leisurely, lyrical tale of a young woman growing up in isolation in the 1950s and 60s, in a marsh on the North Carolina coast. Kya is abandoned by her troubled mother when she is only six. Soon after, her four, much-older siblings leave, as does her alcoholic father a couple of years later. As Kya matures and teaches herself to be a naturalist, she is torn between two slightly older boys: kind, observant Tate and rascally, attractive Chase. Chase dies falling from a fire tower in his twenties, and the investigation of his possible murder, which alternates with the story of Kya's coming-of-age, provides much of the novel's suspense. Because the characters are painted in broad, unambiguous strokes, this is not so much a naturalistic novel as a mythic one, with its appeal rising from Kya's deep connection to the place where she makes her home, and to all of its creatures.--Margaret Quamme Copyright 2018 Booklist
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#5  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Museum Of Desire
Book Jacket   Jonathan Kellerman
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525618522 Dr. Alex Delaware gladly accompanies LAPD Lt. Milo Sturgis on his rounds to offer psychological insight, but the case now staring them in the face is particularly grisly: four people with no obvious connection have been brutally murdered and displayed like awful artworks in a stretch limo. Next in a long line of mega-best-selling Delaware novels.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525618522 Early in bestseller Kellerman’s disappointing 35th whodunit featuring L.A. psychologist Alex Delaware (after 2019’s The Wedding Guest), a professional cleaner who arrives at a house the morning after a big party finds a white stretch limo parked near the pool containing four corpses. All are dressed in black and drenched in blood from the waist down. In the front seat, the chauffeur has a bullet wound to the head; in the backseat, the lone female victim holds the penis of a male victim. Delaware and his LAPD buddy, Lt. Milo Sturgis, must figure out how the four are connected, along with a motive for the murders and the staging of the bodies. The eventual explanation is a letdown, and Delaware and Sturgis make a judgment error at the climax that doesn’t fit with their years of experience interviewing suspects. Overdone prose is another negative (“Misfortune is the mother’s milk of journalism... those who suckle the teats of tragedy are rarely forced to confront evil directly”). Those looking for a cleverer resolution of a similar macabre setup should check out P.D. James’s A Taste for Death. (Feb.)
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#6  (Last Week: 7 • Weeks on List: 6)  
Such A Fun Age
Book Jacket   Kiley Reid
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The relationship between a privileged white mom and her black babysitter is strained by race-related complications.Blogger/role model/inspirational speaker Alix Chamberlain is none too happy about moving from Manhattan to Philadelphia for her husband Peter's job as a TV newscaster. With no friends or in-laws around to help out with her almost-3-year-old, Briar, and infant, Catherine, she'll never get anywhere on the book she's writing unless she hires a sitter. She strikes gold when she finds Emira Tucker. Twenty-five-year-old Emira's family and friends expect her to get going on a career, but outside the fact that she's about to get kicked off her parents' health insurance, she's happy with her part-time gigsand Briar is her "favorite little human." Then one day a double-header of racist events topples the apple cartEmira is stopped by a security guard who thinks she's kidnapped Briar, and when Peter's program shows a segment on the unusual ways teenagers ask their dates to the prom, he blurts out "Let's hope that last one asked her father first" about a black boy hoping to go with a white girl. Alix's combination of awkwardness and obsession with regard to Emira spins out of control and then is complicated by the reappearance of someone from her past (coincidence alert), where lies yet another racist event. Reid's debut sparkles with sharp observations and perfect detailsfood, dcor, clothes, social media, etc.and she's a dialogue genius, effortlessly incorporating toddler-ese, witty boyfriend-speak, and African American Vernacular English. For about two-thirds of the book, her evenhandedness with her varied cast of characters is impressive, but there's a point at which any possible empathy for Alix disappears. Not only is she shallow, entitled, unknowingly racist, and a bad mother, but she has not progressed one millimeter since high school, and even then she was worse than we thought. Maybe this was intentional, but it does make thingsha havery black and white.Charming, challenging, and so interesting you can hardly put it down. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780525541905 Emira is an educated, Black, 25-year-old babysitter partying late one night when she gets a frantic call to babysit at the last minute. In high heels and a miniskirt, she brings the white toddler along to an upscale grocery store, where she is confronted by a security guard who accuses her of kidnapping the child. Kelley, a concerned white bystander, films the altercation, which leaves Emira shaken. He emails her the video clip, but Emira is not interested in sharing it with anyone. Her white employer, Alix Chamberlain, is a successful and influential mompreneur who overcompensates for the incident and handles Emira with kid gloves. Meanwhile, Emira starts dating Kelley, who, unbeknownst to her, had a traumatic romance with Alix many years ago. Tensions mount amidst unresolved pain between Kelley and Alix, and Emira's discontent with her life and how sharply it contrasts with that of her employer. In her smart and timely debut, Reid has her finger solidly on the pulse of the pressures and ironies inherent in social media, privilege, modern parenting, racial tension, and political correctness.--Andrienne Cruz Copyright 2019 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525541905 In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix's efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525541905 In her debut, Reid crafts a nuanced portrait of a young black woman struggling to define herself apart from the white people in her life who are all too ready to speak and act on her behalf. Emira Tucker knows that the one thing she’s unequivocally good at is taking care of children, specifically the two young daughters, Briar and Catherine, of her part-time employer, Alix Chamberlain. However, about to turn 26 and lose her parents’ health insurance, and while watching her friends snatch up serious boyfriends and enviable promotions, Temple grad Emira starts to feel ashamed about “still” babysitting. This humiliation is stoked after she’s harassed by security personnel at an upscale Philadelphia grocery store where she’d taken three-year-old Briar. Emira later develops a romantic relationship with Kelley, the young white man who captured cellphone video of the altercation, only to discover that Kelley and Alix have a shared and uncomfortable past, one that traps Emira in the middle despite assertions that everyone has her best interests at heart. Reid excels at depicting subtle variations and manifestations of self-doubt, and astutely illustrates how, when coupled with unrecognized white privilege, this emotional and professional insecurity can result in unintended—as well as willfully unseen—consequences. This is an impressive, memorable first outing. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Jan.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525541905 DEBUT Say you're a white, professional woman in the midst of a late-evening crisis. Would you call your African American babysitter, catching her at a friend's birthday party, and ask her to come tend to your toddler? Say you're that African American babysitter. After taking your charge to the local market, wouldn't you be annoyed, then humiliated, then downright scared and angry when a security guard accuses you of kidnapping? Say you're that white woman, wanting to right this wrong, and giving the sitter a raise or an edible arrangement isn't quite the right path. Would you go crusading with self-righteous, even self-serving zeal, not really checking in with what your babysitter wants or needs? If you were that babysitter, what would be your next move? Especially if you loved that toddler and thought you were good at your job? Aren't you curious to find out how put-upon Emira deals with her clueless brand-marketer boss? VERDICT In her debut novel, Reid illuminates difficult truths about race, society, and power with a fresh, light hand. We're all familiar with the phrases white privilege and race relations, but rarely has a book vivified these terms in such a lucid, absorbing, graceful, forceful, but unforced way. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/19.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
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#7  (Last Week: 6 • Weeks on List: 36)  
The Silent Patient
 Alex Michaelides
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250301697 DEBUT Psychotherapist Theo Faber is obsessed with the case of Alicia Berenson, an artist convicted of murdering her husband six years ago. Ever since she was found standing over his dead body, splattered with blood, she's remained silent, not even speaking up in her own defense at trial. When the judge sentences her to Grove Psychiatric Hospital instead of prison. Theo sees his opportunity to work with her firsthand, leaving a more prestigious and stable job to work at the financially strapped hospital. Through Theo's first-person narration and excerpts from Alicia's diary that document events taking place before the murder, readers slowly learn about the circumstances leading to the deadly event. As Theo struggles to connect with mute Alicia and secretly conducts his own investigation into her past, he hopes to uncover clues about her marriage and what set off such a violent episode, wrestling with his own psychological demons along the way. Clever plotting, red herrings, and multiple twists ensure most readers will be surprised by the ending of this debut thriller from screenwriter (The Devil You Know) Michaelides. -VERDICT Dark, edgy, and compulsively readable. [See Prepub Alert, 9/17/18.]-Kiera Parrott, Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak."Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artistsAlicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's justI'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781250317544 Michaelides's debut is a captivating study of the characters linked to Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who inexplicably shot the husband she loved and then chose never to utter a single word again-not even to defend herself as she was tried and then institutionalized in a secure psychiatric facility in London. Theo Faber, a psychotherapist determined to help Alicia, tells the story of how he tried to unlock her secrets and get her talking again. Sandwiched between his storytelling, Michaelides scatters entries from Alicia's diary of the days leading to that ill-fated night to help build suspense and intrigue. Some aspects of the story seemed predictable, but the emotional twists and amazing turns will carry readers through the most contrived plot points. The narration by Jack Hawkins and Louise Brealey is like a two-person theatrical performance. Hawkins artfully uses different voices to portray each character, capturing the emotion and complexity of each individual. Brealey's reading of the diary stirs empathy and a deep understanding of Alicia's tragic character. Verdict The book is receiving much-deserved buzz, but the audio production and exceptional narration make the characters feel real. ["Dark, edgy, and compulsively readable": LJ 11/1/18 review of the Celadon hc.]-Gladys Alcedo, -Wallingford, CT © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781250301697 Alicia Berenson is a famous painter, living a life that many envy with her handsome fashion-photographer husband, Gabriel. With a gorgeous house, complete with a painting studio, and that perfect marriage, Alicia couldn't be happier. Until one day Gabriel comes home late from work, and Alicia shoots him in the face. In the brutal aftermath that leads to an indefinite stay in a psychiatric hospital, Alicia mutely accepts her punishment. Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is put in charge of her therapy; however, since the night of the shooting, she hasn't spoken a word. With a nod to Greek mythology, art, and love, debut novelist Michaelides effectively blurs the lines between psychosis and sanity. Multiple story lines are told with a writing style that combines past diary entries with present-day prose, becoming more tangled as they weave together, keeping readers on edge, guessing and second-guessing. The Silent Patient is unputdownable, emotionally chilling, and intense, with a twist that will make even the most seasoned suspense reader break out in a cold sweat.--Erin Holt Copyright 2018 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781250301697 Psychotherapist Theo Faber, the emotionally fragile narrator of Michaelides's superb first novel, finagles his way to a job at the Grove, a "secure forensic unit" in North London, where artist Alicia Berenson has been housed for six years since she was convicted of murdering her prominent fashion photographer husband, Gabriel. The evidence against Alicia was clear-Gabriel was tied to a chair and shot several times in the face with a gun that had only her fingerprints. Since the day of her arrest, Alicia has never said a word. Before the murder, Alicia painted a provocative self-portrait entitled Alcestis, based on a Greek myth that seemed to echo her life. Her current therapists reluctantly agree to let Theo treat the heavily drugged Alicia to get her to speak. The boundary between doctor and patient blurs as Theo, who admits he became a therapist "because I was fucked-up," seeks to cure his own emotional problems in the course of treating Alicia. This edgy, intricately plotted psychological thriller establishes Michaelides as a major player in the field. 200,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Sam Copeland, Rogers, Coleridge & White (U.K.). (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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#8  (Last Week: 4 • Weeks on List: 4)  
Lost
 James Patterson and James O Born
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316420327 Having attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, then worked the city's steets as a beat cop, Tom Moore has the local smarts to head up the FBI task force Operation Guardian, which aims to target international crime in the sun-drenched city. His big problem: Russian nationals Roman and Emile Rostoff, known as the Blood Brothers, have built a deadly crime syndicate on his doorstep. With a 500,000-copy first printing.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316420327 Having attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, then worked the city's steets as a beat cop, Tom Moore has the local smarts to head up the FBI task force Operation Guardian, which aims to target international crime in the sun-drenched city. His big problem: Russian nationals Roman and Emile Rostoff, known as the Blood Brothers, have built a deadly crime syndicate on his doorstep. With a 500,000-copy first printing.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316420327 Having attended the University of Miami on a football scholarship, then worked the city's steets as a beat cop, Tom Moore has the local smarts to head up the FBI task force Operation Guardian, which aims to target international crime in the sun-drenched city. His big problem: Russian nationals Roman and Emile Rostoff, known as the Blood Brothers, have built a deadly crime syndicate on his doorstep. With a 500,000-copy first printing.
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#9  (Last Week: 8 • Weeks on List: 20)  
The Dutch House
Book Jacket   Ann Patchett
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062963673 A 1920s mansion worms into the lives of the broken family that occupies it in another masterly novel from Patchett (Commonwealth). In 1945, Brooklyn-born real-estate entrepreneur Cyril Conroy purchases the Dutch House in Elkins Park, outside Philadelphia, and presents it, complete with Delft mantels, life-size portraits of the original owners, a ballroom, and staff, to his wife. She hates it. She runs away to serve the poor, abandoning her 10-year-old daughter, Maeve, and three-year-old son, Danny. Five years later, Maeve and Danny meet Conroy’s second wife. The second Mrs. Conroy adores the house. When Cyril dies, she keeps it, dispossessing Maeve and Danny of any inheritance except funds for Danny’s education, which they use to send Danny to Choate, Columbia, and medical school. Grown-up Danny narrates, remembering his sister as an unswerving friend and protector. For Patchett, family connection comes not from formal ties or ceremonies but from shared moments: Danny accompanying his father to work, Danny’s daughter painting her grandmother’s fingernails, Maeve and Danny together trying to decode the past. Despite the presence of a grasping stepmother, this is no fairy tale, and Patchett remarkably traces acts of cruelty and kindness through three generations of a family over 50 years. Patchett’s splendid novel is a thoughtful, compassionate exploration of obsession and forgiveness, what people acquire, keep, lose or give away, and what they leave behind. (Sept.)
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Their mother's disappearance cements an unbreakable connection between a pair of poor-little-rich-kid siblings.Like The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer or Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach, this is a deeply pleasurable book about a big house and the family that lives in it. Toward the end of World War II, real estate developer and landlord Cyril Conroy surprises his wife, Elna, with the keys to a mansion in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Philadelphia. Elna, who had no idea how much money her husband had amassed and still thought they were poor, is appalled by the luxurious property, which comes fully furnished and complete with imposing portraits of its former owners (Dutch people named VanHoebeek) as well as a servant girl named Fluffy. When her son, Danny, is 3 and daughter, Maeve, is 10, Elna's antipathy for the place sends her on the lamfirst occasionally, then permanently. This leaves the children with the household help and their rigid, chilly father, but the difficulties of the first year pale when a stepmother and stepsisters appear on the scene. Then those problems are completely dwarfed by further misfortune. It's Danny who tells the story, and he's a wonderful narrator, stubborn in his positions, devoted to his sister, and quite clear about various errorslike going to medical school when he has no intention of becoming a doctorwhile utterly committed to them. "We had made a fetish out of our disappointment," he says at one point, "fallen in love with it." Casually stated but astute observations about human nature are Patchett's (Commonwealth, 2016, etc.) stock in trade, and she again proves herself a master of aging an ensemble cast of characters over many decades. In this story, only the house doesn't change. You will close the book half believing you could drive to Elkins Park and see it.Like the many-windowed mansion at its center, this richly furnished novel gives brilliantly clear views into the lives it contains. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780062963673 The Conroys kept the portraits of the stalwart VanHoebeeks, the wealthy builders of the so-called Dutch House, on display even as their own family fractured. A self-made real-estate magnate, Cyril bought the fully furnished mansion in a prosperous Philadelphia suburb to surprise his wife, catastrophically oblivious to her temperament and values. Cyril's son Danny has scant impressions of his long-gone mother, but his older sister, Maeve, cherishes her memories. After their father fails, once again, to gauge the situation and remarries, the mysteriously motherless yet privileged siblings are abruptly banished from their stately home and left penniless. This inspires brainy, mordant, unconventional, and fiercely self-sufficient Maeve to redouble her devotion to her brother. Patchett (Commonwealth, 2016) is at her subtle yet shining finest in this gloriously incisive, often droll, quietly suspenseful drama of family, ambition, and home. As Maeve and Danny dwell in ""their own paradise of memory,"" their bond takes precedence over all else in their lives, including Danny's marriage, while Maeve's love life remains cloaked to Danny but heartbreakingly clear to readers. With echoes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and in sync with Alice McDermott, Patchett gracefully choreographs surprising revelations and reunions as her characters struggle with questions of heredity, altruism, forgiveness, social expectations, and the need to be one's true self.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2010 Booklist
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062963673 This latest from Patchett (Commonwealth) is a decadeslong family saga centered on a piece of real estate. Narrator Danny recalls his troubled childhood in the stately Philadelphia-area mansion purchased by his father, who was striving for a level of elegance and comfort that Danny's ascetic mother, an aspiring nun before marriage, could never accept. Largely raised by his saintly sister, Maeve, and a small household staff after his mother runs off to India in the footsteps of Mother Teresa, Danny forms an unbreakable bond with Maeve and a shared obsession with the Dutch House, from which he and Maeve are banned by Andrea, their egotistical stepmother, after their father's early death. The siblings structure their lives around the tragic loss of their home, sublimating their feelings of parental neglect into an all-encompassing loathing of Andrea. VERDICT Not all of Patchett's characters, particularly Maeve, are fully developed or believable, perhaps because of the narrator's own limited powers of observation; Danny more than once acknowledges his own lazy inattention to the people who care for him. Still, this is an affecting family drama that explores the powerful tug of nostalgia and the exclusionary force of shared resentments.—Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
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#10  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
The Girl With The Louding Voice
Book Jacket   Abi Daré
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A Nigerian teenager determined to get an education escapes an arranged marriage in her village but finds that life in the city is dangerous, too.Adunni, the 14-year-old protagonist of Dar's moving first novel, longs to be educated and dreams of one day becoming a teacher. "I even been teaching the small boys and girls in the village ABC and 123 on market days," she says. "I like the way their eyes be always so bright, their voices so sharp." But in her village, girls are supposed to marry early, have babies, and take care of the men. With her supportive mother dead and a father who doesn't believe daughters need schooling, she is forced into a brutal, unhappy marriage with a much older man who already has two wives. One wife befriends her and tries to ease Adunni's loneliness and suffering. But when tragedy ensues, Adunni flees to the crowded city of Lagos in hopes of finding a better future. Instead, she ends up as an indentured servant in an abusive household, where her hopes for learning are further stifled. Dar, who grew up in Lagos and now lives in the U.K., paints a bleak and vivid portrait of the expectations and sexual dangers for rural Nigerian girls, who are exploited as workers and punished for having "a louding voice" (meaning they dare to want a say in their own future). Adunni's dialect will be unfamiliar to some readers, but the rhythm of her language grows easier to follow the more you read, and her courage and determination to make her own way in life despite terrible setbacks are heartbreaking and inspiring. Dar provides a valuable reminder of all the young women around the world who are struggling to be heard and how important it is that we listen to them.A moving story of what it means to fight for the right to live the life you choose. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781524746025 Desperate for an education, which is the only way to get the "louding" voice that will let her speak for herself, 14-year-old Nigerian Adunni is instead sold by her father to a local man looking for a male heir. Running away to the city, she ends up enslaved to a wealthy family but never gives up her dream. From Nigerian-born, UK-based Daré; winner of the Bath Novel Award (for not-yet-published works) and preempted by the publisher after heady buzz at the London Book Fair.
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NONFICTION
#1  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Open Book
 Jessica Simpson with Kevin Carr O’Leary
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#2  (Last Week: 2 • Weeks on List: 3)  
A Very Stable Genius
 Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781984877499 Washington Post reporters Rucker and Leonnig deliver a granular critique of the Trump presidency, from Michael Flynn's ill-fated tenure as national security advisor to the release of the Mueller Report. Contending that "two kinds of people went to work for the administration: those who thought Trump was saving the world and those who thought the world needed to be saved from Trump," Rucker and Leonnig argue that the latter group served as "human guardrails" before they either quit in frustration or were fired. White House insiders lament everything from the preponderance of TVs ("It was like running a meeting in a Buffalo Wild Wings") to Trump's insults ("You're a bunch of dopes and babies," he once told senior military commanders) to the meddling of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. The book's brief epilogue links the departure of Trump's most experienced advisors to his pressure campaign on Ukraine and calls on Republicans to consider "the fate of history" as impeachment unfolds. Rucker and Leonnig try to account for their sources' private agendas (though Chris Christie comes off suspiciously well) and reveal new details about well-known events, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's plans to protect the Russia investigation if Trump fired Mueller. The president's critics will find their worst suspicions confirmed by this doggedly reported account. (Jan.)
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#3  (Last Week: 1 • Weeks on List: 3)  
Profiles In Corruption
Book Jacket   Peter Schweizer
#4  (Last Week: 3 • Weeks on List: 103)  
Educated
Book Jacket   Tara Westover
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780399590504 To the Westovers, public education was the quickest way to put yourself on the wrong path. By the time the author, the youngest Westover, had come along, her devout Mormon parents had pulled all of their seven children out of school, preferring to teach just the essentials: a little bit of reading, a lot of scripture, and the importance of family and a hard day's work. Westover's debut memoir details how her isolated upbringing in the mountains of Idaho led to an unexpected outcome: Cambridge, Harvard, and a PhD. Though Westover's entrance into academia is remarkable, at its heart, her memoir is a family history: not just a tale of overcoming but an uncertain elegy to the life that she ultimately rejected. Westover manages both tenderness and a savage honesty that spares no one, not even herself: nowhere is this more powerful than in her relationship with her brother Shawn, her abuser and closest friend. In its keen exploration of family, history, and the narratives we create for ourselves, Educated becomes more than just a success story.--Winterroth, Amanda Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A recent Cambridge University doctorate debuts with a wrenching account of her childhood and youth in a strict Mormon family in a remote region of Idaho.It's difficult to imagine a young woman who, in her teens, hadn't heard of the World Trade Center, the Holocaust, and virtually everything having to do with arts and popular culture. But so it was, as Westover chronicles here in fairly chronological fashion. In some ways, the author's father was a classic anti-government paranoiacwhen Y2K failed to bring the end of the world, as he'd predicted, he was briefly humbled. Her mother, though supportive at times, remained true to her beliefs about the subordinate roles of women. One brother was horrendously abusive to the author and a sister, but the parents didn't do much about it. Westover didn't go to public school and never received professional medical care or vaccinations. She worked in a junkyard with her father, whose fortunes rose and fell and rose again when his wife struck it rich selling homeopathic remedies. She remained profoundly ignorant about most things, but she liked to read. A brother went to Brigham Young University, and the author eventually did, too. Then, with the encouragement of professors, she ended up at Cambridge and Harvard, where she excelledthough she includes a stark account of her near breakdown while working on her doctoral dissertation. We learn about a third of the way through the book that she kept journals, but she is a bit vague about a few things. How, for example, did her family pay for the professional medical treatment of severe injuries that several of them experienced? Andwith some justificationshe is quick to praise herself and to quote the praise of others.An astonishing account of deprivation, confusion, survival, and success. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399590504 Raised on a secluded family compound in Idaho, Westover was seven before realizing the biggest difference between her family and others was not their remote home, or their Mormon religion-but that "we don't go to school." Westover helped the family maintain a minimalist existence through construction, scrapping, and midwifery, no matter how many injuries she sustained. But when the author's wounds go untreated, leaving her mother mentally compromised and herself an object of abuse, cracks in her upbringing began to appear. Westover's brother Tyler is the first to leave home for college, later encouraging her to do the same. "There's a world out there, Tara...it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in your ear." Starting her academic career at Brigham Young University, Westover continued to earn academic achievements, including a PhD in history from Cambridge University. VERDICT Explicit descriptions of abuse can make for difficult reading, but for a student who started from a point of near illiteracy, Westover's writing is lyrical and literary in style. With no real comparison memoir, this joins the small number of Mormon exposés of recent years. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," p. 29.-Ed.]-Jessica Bushore, Xenia, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525528074 As the youngest of seven children born to fundamentalist parents in remote Idaho, seven-year-old Westover realized it was unusual that her siblings didn't go to school. Her father's distrust of government, education, and doctors meant Westover didn't have a birth certificate, medical records, or school records. Neglect and abuse were common, especially at the fists of one of her older brothers. Encouraged by another brother who got out, Westover begins the process of getting "educated" when she entered her first-ever classroom at 17 as a freshman at Brigham Young University. -Basic history-the Holocaust, the civil rights movement-was yet unknown to her, but she progressed to Cambridge, Harvard, and back to Cambridge for a PhD in history. Narrator Julia Whelan embodies Westover's steely almost detached resolve, maintaining modulated control even amid desperate, dangerous situations-broken bones, third-degree burns, gruesome accidents. She reserves her growls and bellows for the Westover men determined-yet who fail-to keep their women down. VERDICT A Mormon metamorphosis memoir is such a rarity that readers will undoubtedly be drawn to getting Educated. ["Explicit descriptions of abuse can make for difficult reading, but...Westover's writing is lyrical and literary in style": LJ 2/1/18 review of the Random hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780399590504 A girl claws her way out of a claustrophobic, violent fundamentalist family into an elite academic career in this searing debut memoir. Westover recounts her upbringing with six siblings on an Idaho farm dominated by her father Gene (a pseudonym), a devout Mormon with a paranoid streak who tried to live off the grid, kept four children (including the author) out of school, refused to countenance doctors (Westover's mother, Faye, was an unlicensed midwife who sold homeopathic medicines), and stockpiled supplies and guns for the end-time. Westover was forced to work from the age of 11 in Gene's scrap and construction businesses under incredibly dangerous conditions; the grisly narrative includes lost fingers, several cases of severe brain trauma, and two horrible burns that Faye treated with herbal remedies. Thickening the dysfunction was the author's bullying brother, who physically brutalized her for wearing makeup and other immodest behaviors. When she finally escaped the toxic atmosphere of dogma, suspicion, and patriarchy to attend college and then grad school at Cambridge, her identity crisis precipitated a heartbreaking rupture. Westover's vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525528050 Actor Whelan chooses a simple, straight reading of Westover's memoir about growing up in a dysfunctional, abusive fundamentalist family. It's a wise choice, partly because there are so many dramatic scenes throughout the book that it would exhaust the listener to have them dramatized, and partly because Westover portrays herself as a passive and compliant family member until the day she enters a classroom for the first time at the age of 17. Whelan creates an angry, gravelly voice for Westover's paranoid, fundamentalist Mormon father, a controlling and abusive man terrified of the influence of teachers and doctors. While preparing for the imminent end of the world, he homeschools his children and keeps them ignorant of all events outside their isolated Idaho home. Some family members are maimed by hideous accidents, and physical fights are common in the household. Still struggling with the ingrained need to be loyal to her family, Westover eventually attends college and earns a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Whelan smoothly guides listeners through Westover's physical and emotional traumas as she powerfully conveys Westover's transform from "a wicked thing" to a scholar. A Random House hardcover. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399590504 Raised in an alternative Mormon home in rural Idaho, Westover worked as an assistant midwife to her mother and labored in her father's junkyard. Formal schooling wasn't a priority, because her parents believed that public education was government indoctrination and that Westover's future role would be to support her husband. But her older brother's violence and their family's refusal to acknowledge problems at home resulted in the teen contemplating escape through education. Admittance to Brigham Young University was difficult. Westover taught herself enough to receive a decent score on the ACT, but because of her upbringing, she didn't understand rudimentary concepts of sanitation and etiquette, and her learning curve was steep. However, she eventually thrived, earning scholarships to Harvard and Cambridge-though she grappled with whether to include her toxic family in her new life. Born in 1986, Westover interviewed family members to help her write the first half. Her well-crafted account of her early years will intrigue teens, but the memoir's second part, covering her undergraduate and graduate experiences in the "real world," will stun them. VERDICT A gripping, intimate, sometimes shocking, yet ultimately inspiring work. Perfect for fans of memoirs about overcoming traumatic childhoods or escaping from fundamentalist religious communities, such as Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle and Ruth Wariner's The Sound of Gravel.-Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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#5  (Last Week: 5 • Weeks on List: 2)  
Why We're Polarized
 Ezra Klein
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant. Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and '60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as "tweedledum and tweedledee." With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that "kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would've been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would've been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age." Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a "true choice," Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of "identity politics." Americans, like all humans, cherish their "tribe" and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunatelyaccording to KleinTrump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781476700328 Vox Media cofounder Klein explores political polarization in the U.S., from its psychological underpinnings to its impact on congressional lawmaking, in this timely, thought-provoking debut. Klein’s multifaceted approach draws on the work of political scientists, media critics, and social psychologists to address why individuals choose allegiance to party over policy, the pros and cons of identity politics, and the inherent instability of a presidential republic, among other topics. His pithy assessments (“The smarter the person is, the dumber politics can make them”) hit the mark more often than not, and political junkies as well as general readers will learn from his analysis of the U.S. media landscape. Klein provides unique insight into how journalists decide what stories to cover, and how that process contributes to a closed feedback loop in which efforts to persuade are less appealing to audiences than content that stokes partisan feelings. Klein’s modest set of principles for how the electoral system might “function amid polarization” may disappoint readers looking for more comprehensive solutions, but his thoughtful, evenhanded outlook fits the seriousness of the subject. This precise and persuasive guide helps to make sense of the current state of American politics. (Jan.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781476700328 In his first book, Klein, editor-at-large and cofounder of Vox and host of the podcasts The Ezra Klein Show and Impeachment, Explained, writes about how individuals reflect the systems around them. Klein shows how the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the presidential campaign of Barry Goldwater later that year caused angry conservatives and Southern Democrats to gravitate toward the Republican Party. According to the author, there is nothing more dangerous than a group accustomed to power that feels its control is fading. Citing a range of primary sources and firsthand interviews, Klein reiterates that the United States is sorted into racial, religious, cultural, and geographic identities, which have led to Democrats becoming more diverse and Republicans more homogeneous. He effectively explains the impact of weak parties and strong partisanship, which can lead to demagogues. Among his ideas for reform are eliminating the Electoral College and granting Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico congressional representation. By combining political history with social commentary, this book will retain relevancy. VERDICT With YA crossover appeal, Klein's accessible work is for anyone wondering how we got here; it shows how understanding history can help us plan for the future.—Stephanie Sendaula, Library Journal
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#6  (Last Week: 4 • Weeks on List: 8)  
The Mamba Mentality
 Kobe Bryant
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The future NBA Hall of Famer explores his process and craft.Love him or hate himthere seems to be little sentiment in betweenformer Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was always known for his laser-sharp focus, exacting preparation, diligent attention to details, and extreme competitiveness, and all of those qualities are on display in this photo-heavy look back on his career. The key word is "career," as the author provides almost no biographical detail unrelated to basketballwhich is probably appropriate given that he has displayed little interest in anything beyond the game. Conveyed via short, no-nonsense snippets and accompanying photos on nearly every page, the narrative, such as it is, reflects Bryant's commitment to the game. From training to practice to recovery to mental preparation to highly technical descriptions of his mechanicsand those of his opponentshe delves into it all. The book will appeal to die-hard basketball fans intrigued by one of the game's brightest minds, but the structure is somewhat haphazard and may lose general readers. The real stars here are the stunning photographs (at least one on every page, with many double-page spreads), all taken by Andrew D. Bernstein, the longtime Lakers official photographer. Each photo effectively demonstrates what Bryant is discussing, and some feature hand-drawn embellishments by the author, showing the angle and direction of a pass or cut or some other element of a particular play. Bryant also delivers capsule assessments of many of his teammates, opponents, and coaches over the years: "Pau [Gasol] was my favorite teammate ever"; "Phil Jackson was more than just a coachhe was a visionary"; "Tex Winter was a basketball genius"; "Jerry West and I had a father-son type of relationship"; Lamar Odom "was the cool-ass uncle who took care of everybody and always came through in the clutch."There's little that dedicated Kobe fans don't already know, but the book is a visually beautiful presentation that would make an ideal gift for the Lakers fan in the house. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374201234 *Starred Review* Bryant is inarguably among the top 20 basketball players of all time: five-time champion, 18-time all-star, the list goes on. But overshadowing all the achievement is his legendary work ethic, drive, and devotion to the craft of basketball. The black mamba is the deadliest of snakes; Bryant was the deadliest of opponents. He could suck the air out of a rival's arena by leading a frenetic comeback or hitting a game-winning fadeaway jumper as the clock wound down. Bryant, the son of a former NBA player, came to his obsession early, joining the Los Angeles Lakers at just 17. The work ethic was part of his DNA. This extraordinarily beautiful book is built around the photography of Andrew D. Bernstein, the official team photographer of the Lakers and the L.A. Clippers. He took Kobe's rookie head shot and captured the rest of his career as well. The full-color shots dominate, showing Bryant at practice, in the training room, working out in the summer, and, of course, there are dozens of breathtaking game shots. Bryant's accompanying text is spare but insightful, at times elegant. He offers plenty of anecdotes about teammates and opponents, which will satisfy fans interested mainly in the memoir aspect; but what sets this book apart from the competition is Bernstein's photography. It's wonderful.--Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2018 Booklist
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#7  (Last Week: 6 • Weeks on List: 61)  
Becoming
Book Jacket   Michelle Obama
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525633693 Obama embodies the American dream, overcoming barriers of race, class, and gender to become one of the most influential leaders of our times. Though we stood witness to her husband’s historic ascent to become the first black U.S. president, this memoir reveals surprising, intimate details that shaped news stories and public perception. We learn how Obama struggled with the same challenges many people of color or marginalized groups face, including self-doubt—at times asking, “Am I good enough?” Yet her courage, determination, and resolve—molded by her parents, extended family, and friends—lifted her to achieve: first as an undergraduate at Princeton University, then as a law student at Harvard University, followed by her professional career in corporate law, government, and the nonprofit sector. VERDICT The audiobook may seem daunting with 19 hours of listening, but Obama’s narration moves the story quickly as it captivates. Her familiar voice personalizes the story and emotionally draws listeners deeper. The only negative for the audiobook is that it omits the photos in the print version.—Gladys Alcedo, Wallingford, CT © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781524763138 The former first lady looks back on an unlikely rise to the top while navigating issues of race and gender in this warmhearted memoir. Obama's narrative is the story of an African-American striver, born to a working-class family in a Chicago ghetto, who got Princeton and Harvard degrees and prominent jobs in law and public relations, attended at every step by the nagging question, "Am I good enough?" ("Yes I am," she answers). It's also about her struggle to keep husband Barack's high-powered political career from subsuming her identity and the placid family life she preferred to the electoral frenzy-she disavows any desire for public office herself-while she weathered misgivings over work-life balance and marital strains that required couples' counseling. Becoming the first lady ratchets up the pressure as Obama endures the Secret Service security bubble, has every public utterance and outfit attacked by opponents, gets pilloried as a closet radical, and soldiers on with healthy-food initiatives. Obama surveys most of this with calm good humor-"infuriating" Republican obstructionism and Donald Trump's "misogyny" draw her ire-while painting an admiring, sometimes romantic portrait of Barack and evoking pathos over her parents' sacrifices for their children. There are no dramatic revelations and not much overt politics here, but fans of the Obamas will find an interesting, inspiring saga of quiet social revolutions. Photos. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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#8  (Last Week: 7 • Weeks on List: 22)  
Talking To Strangers
Book Jacket   Malcolm Gladwell
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316478526 The prolific, best-selling Gladwell (David and Goliath; The Tipping Point) presents an intriguing analysis of what far too often goes wrong when strangers meet, diving deeply into relatively well-known controversial public incidents thoroughly covered by the mass media to cast doubt on how the general public has come to understand these events. The deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Pennsylvania State University, and the death of Sandra Bland highlight the premise that ordinary tools and techniques used to make sense of people we don't know have failed society. The result of this failure is further conflict and misunderstanding that impact international relations and even threaten world order. Many of the examples exemplify how race, gender, age, language, country of origin, perceived threat, challenge to authority, contextual setting, and other variables can dominate impulsive behavior that shuns connections among people. VERDICT This work should stimulate further research that could serve as control for these variables and more directly link how the factor of strangeness might influence certain reactions, providing a valuable contribution to psychology and psychiatry collections in larger university libraries.—Dale Farris, Groves, TX
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316478526 Like his New Yorker articles and previous books, Gladwell's newest is chock-full of gripping anecdotes from the recent and forgotten past, from Amanda Knox's overturned murder conviction to the double agents who sunk the CIA's spying efforts in 1980s Cuba. He uses these riveting stories to offer up bite-size observations about how we engage with strangers. For example, we think of ourselves as complex but of strangers as straightforward. Not so, Gladwell insists. The stranger is not easy; she is never as transparent as we believe. Gladwell's case studies are thrilling, but their relevance to everyday encounters is frequently obtuse, and the takeaways from them are often buried or provocative. Ultimately, Gladwell argues that it's essential to give strangers the benefit of the doubt, even in very different situations, such as when Penn State president Graham Spanier accepted reports of Jerry Sandusky's suspicious behavior with a minor as horseplay and when Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled Sandra Bland over after a minor traffic infraction. Readers may find that Gladwell's alluringly simple lesson dangerously oversimplifies power dynamics in twenty-first-century America.--Maggie Taft Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316478526 In this thoughtful treatise spurred by the 2015 death of African-American academic Sandra Bland in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell (The Tipping Point) aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers-to "analyze [those strategies], critique them, figure out where they came from, figure out how to fix them," in other words: to understand how to balance trust and safety. He uses a variety of examples from history and recent headlines to illustrate that people size up the motivations, emotions, and trustworthiness of those they don't know both wrongly and with misplaced confidence. He relates, for example, the story of a whole cadre of American spies in Cuba who were carefully handpicked by American intelligence operatives, all of whom turned out to be pro-Castro double agents. Gladwell writes in his signature colorful, fluid, and accessible prose, though he occasionally fails to make fully clear the connection between a seemingly tangential topic such as suicide risk and the book's main questions. In addition to providing an analysis of human mental habits and interactions, Gladwell pleas for more thoughtful ways of behaving and advocates for people to embrace trust, rather than defaulting to distrust, and not to "blame the stranger." Readers will find this both fascinating and topical. Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. The latest intellectually stimulating book from the acclaimed author.Every few years, journalist Gladwell (David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, 2013, etc.) assembles serious scientific research on oddball yet relevant subjects and then writes a bestseller. Readers expecting another everything-you-think-you-know-is-wrong page-turner will not be disappointed, but they will also encounter some unsettling truths. The author begins with a few accounts of black Americans who died at the hands of police, using the incidents to show how most of us are incompetent at judging strangers. Countless psychological studies demonstrate that humans are terrible at detecting lying. Experts such as FBI agents don't perform better. Judges interview suspects to determine if they deserve bail; they believe it helps, but the opposite is true. Computers, using only hard data, do much better. Many people had qualms about Bernie Madoff, but interviewers found him completely open and honest; "he was a sociopath dressed up as a mensch." This, Gladwell emphasizes, is the transparency problem. We believe that someone's demeanor reflects their thoughts and emotions, but it often doesn't. Gladwell's second bombshell is what he calls "default to truth." It seems like a university president resigns in disgrace every few months for the same reason: They hear accusations of abusive behavior by an employeee.g., Larry Nassar at Michigan State, Jerry Sandusky at Penn Stateconduct an investigation, but then take no action, often claiming that they did not have enough evidence of deceit. Ultimately, everyone agrees that they were criminally negligent. Another example is CIA official James Angleton, who was convinced that there was a Soviet mole in the agency; his decades of suspicion and search ruined careers and crippled American intelligence. Gladwell emphasizes that society could not function if we did not give everyone the benefit of the doubt. "To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society," he writes. "Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic. But the alternativeto abandon trust as a defense against predation and deceptionis worse."Another Gladwell tour de force but perhaps his most disturbing. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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#9  (Last Week: - • Weeks on List: 1)  
Brother & Sister
 Diane Keaton
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In this melancholic addition to Keaton's two previous works of memoir (Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty, 2014, etc.), she strives to understand her troubled younger brother.Two poignant passages bookend the author's brief account of her relationship with her brother, Randy Hall. In the first, she recalls the pair at 5 and 3, sharing a bedroom in their Southern California home, Keaton "glancing down from my top-bunk apartment in the sky and seeing Randy's anxious bobbing head, his fear of the dark, and his sweet if hapless face.Why couldn't he stop seeing ghosts lurking in shadows that weren't there?" The second depicts the siblings, now in their 70s, sitting quietly as Keaton holds her ailing brother's hand and strokes his hair during a visit to his nursing home. In between these moments of intimacy, Keaton admits to long periods of estrangement from her sensitive, self-destructive, alcoholic brother, who "took failure and wore it the way Hester Pryne wore her scarlet letter," spending an isolated life writing, collaging, drinking, and existing by grace of the supportfinancial and otherwiseof his parents and sisters. While never completely free of worry or involvement, the author discloses that "while I was playing the firebrand Louise Bryant [in the film Reds], he'd attempted to gas himself in the garage.I told myself I didn't have time to linger on my family's problems, and certainly not Randy's." Keaton thoughtfully wrestles with her guilty conscience while attempting to assemble a clearer picture of her brother's nature. To do so, she relies heavily on excerpts from his poems, prose, and letters and those of family members. Yet Halldescribed variously as "a schizoid personality" by a doctor, an "Almost Artist" by Keaton, and a "genius" by his idealizing motherremains inscrutable and difficult to sympathize with.Keaton sheds her whimsical persona to explore difficult burdens that those with an unstable sibling will recognize. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780451494504 Actor Keaton (Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty) focuses on her complex relationship with her mentally ill younger brother in this resonant and melancholy family memoir. Keaton admits that she saw her brother, Randy, as a burden when they were kids growing up in Southern California: “He was a nuisance, a scaredy-cat, and a crybaby.” As she got older, “he became an absent presence. I avoided him as my life got busier while his got smaller and more difficult.” Throughout, Keaton shares details of her career (filmmakers Woody Allen and Nancy Meyers, among others, get mentions), but the focus is on Randy, an alcoholic plagued by sadomasochistic fantasies about women, and whose escalating instability—vividly described here (in a letter to Keaton, Randy writes, “When I thought about sex it was always with a knife”)—affected Keaton, her parents, and her two sisters. The author, who became “the family documentarian” after her mother’s death in 2008, utilizes family letters and journals to enhance the narrative, which follows Randy as he unravels and turns into a “Boo Radley character.” Keaton talks about the complexities of loving a brother she never quite knew; of watching him become consumed by alcohol, then falling into the grip of dementia “in the process of dying”; and of wishing she had done more to help him (“I want to have another chance at being a better sister”). This slim but weighty book stands as a haunting meditation on mortality, sibling love, mental illness, and regret. (Feb.)
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780451494504 Actress Keaton (Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty) reflects on her relationship with her younger brother, Randy Hall. Early on, Hall exhibited heightened fears and anxieties that were intensified by a father with exacting standards and a mother who found it difficult to acknowledge the scope of her son's complexities. Hall wrote poetry, made collages, but increasingly withdrew—eventually walking out of a job at their father's company, divorcing his wife, descending into alcoholism, and angrily shutting out the world. In an effort to seek understanding of his struggles, Keaton eloquently and unflinchingly examines her brother's life, drawing from excerpts of his poetry and her mother's journals and letters in an attempt to find answers to her questions. The result is a cohesive, honest look at an entire family impacted by a troubled individual, as well as how Keaton maintained a bond with her sibling despite tremendous challenges. VERDICT Immersive and haunting, this is a must for Keaton's fans and for those seeking to comprehend the nuances of sibling and family relationships.—Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
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#10  (Last Week: 9 • Weeks on List: 22)  
Maybe You Should Talk To Someone
 Lori Gottlieb
Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781328662057 Atlantic “Dear Therapist” advice columnist Gottlieb (Marry Him) draws on diverse experiences from her many years as a psychotherapist to offer a guided tour of the therapeutic process from the viewpoint of both therapist and patient. After experiencing an emotional crisis, Gottlieb struggles to come to terms with her own feelings, even as she continues working with long-term patients whose stories she blends into the narrative of her own; their questioning, search for meaning, and desires, guilt, and exploration of mortality all strike home as the author shares bravely open discussions with her therapist. ­Gottlieb finds herself learning powerful lessons from her patients as they untangle their emotional challenges while learning to understand her own self-image and what it genuinely means to be human. While this work nicely bridges the gap between patient and therapist, professionals in the field are advised to stick with the more solid substance found in the approaches of Victor Frankl, Carl Jung, Albert Camus, or Friedrich Nietzsche. ­VERDICT Written with grace, humor, wisdom, and compassion, this heartwarming journey of self-discovery should ­appeal to fans of Mitch Alborn and Nicholas Sparks. [See Prepub Alert, 10/29/18.]—Dale Farris, Groves, TX © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A vivacious portrait of a therapist from both sides of the couch.With great empathy and compassion, psychotherapist and Atlantic columnist and contributing editor Gottlieb (Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, 2010, etc.) chronicles the many problems facing the "struggling humans" in her stable of therapy patients. The intimate connection between patient and therapist established through the experience of psychic suffering forms the core of the memoir, as the author plumbs the multifaceted themes of belonging, emotional pain, and healing. "Therapistsdeal with the daily challenges of living just like everyone else.Our training has taught us theories and tools and techniques, but whirring beneath our hard-earned expertise is the fact that we know just how hard it is to be a person," she writes. Through Gottlieb's stories of her sessions with a wide array of clients, readers will identify with the author as both a mid-40s single mother and a perceptive, often humorous psychotherapist. In addition to its smooth, conversational tone and frank honesty, the book is also entertainingly voyeuristic, as readers get to eavesdrop on Gottlieb's therapy sessions with intriguing patients in all states of distress. She also includes tales of her appointments with her own therapist, whom she turned to in her time of personal crisis. Success stories sit alongside poignant profiles of a newly married cancer patient's desperation, a divorced woman with a stern ultimatum for her future, and women who seem stuck in a cycle of unchecked alcoholism or toxic relationships. These episodes afford Gottlieb time for insightful reflection and self-analysis, and she also imparts eye-opening insider details on how patients perceive their therapists and the many unscripted rules psychotherapists must live by, especially when spotted in public ("often when patients see our humanity, they leave us"). Throughout, the author puts a very human face on the delicate yet intensive process of psychotherapy while baring her own demons.Saturated with self-awareness and compassion, this is an irresistibly addictive tour of the human condition. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781328662057 Therapists' private lives tend to take a backseat to their patients', but here Gottlieb (Marry Him, 2010) lifts the therapeutic veil and invites readers into her personal struggles of having a mystifying "wandering uterus" and a boyfriend who unceremoniously declares that he doesn't want to help raise her young child, let alone any other possible children. This would be interesting fodder enough, but Gottlieb plunges further into the psychological depths as she discloses how therapists keep each other honest by discussing their cases in an almost AA-like fashion. Additionally, she shares some of her clients' stories (anonymously, of course), like that of "Julie," who is dying and won't live past 35, or "Rita," who regrets not protecting her children from their alcoholic father. The coup de grace, though, is Gottlieb's vulnerability when she tackles her emotional issues in sessions with her own therapist. Some readers will know Gottlieb from her many TV appearances or her Dear Therapist column, but even for the uninitiated-to-Gottlieb, it won't take long to settle in with this compelling read.--Joan Curbow Copyright 2019 Booklist
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